EAL 231 The Culture of the Lyric in Traditional China: Plants and Poetry

Department: East Asian Languages and Literature
Faculty: Sujane Wu

Fall 2009, 2010,2011, 2012

The definition of lyric in the Chinese tradition is the natural, direct expression and reflection of one's inner spirit as a result of a unique encounter with the external world. Through close, careful readings of folk songs, lyric poems, prose, and excerpts from a novel and a drama, students inquire into how the spiritual, philosophical and political concerns dominating the poets' milieu shaped the lyric language through the ages.

Students focus on the historical development of images and symbolism of the chrysanthemum, lotus and bamboo in Chinese literature. Students select poems to display with plants in the Chrysanthemum Show and present a public reading of these poems.

Course funds help support a lecture by Harvard Professor Xiaofen Tian on the lotus in Chinese literature.

mums with bamboo and poetry
It made me integrate the nature of the plants to the poems that I learned in class. In a way, it helped me learn these plants deeply and more meaningfully.


Smith College student